Brown-and-white marble plate, $95
Delft lamp in amber with bleached-oak base, $2,930
Naturalistic handthrown gourd in gold luster, $2,625
Small Alexander lamp in peacock with 23K gold water-gilt base, $2,635
Ceramicist Christopher Spitzmiller started bucking the status quo during his boarding-school days in New Hampshire, where he first studied pottery-making in earnest. “I told my mother I wanted to major in ceramics, and she pulled the car over to the side of the road and told me to pick a career I could make some money at,” he remembers with a laugh.
Undeterred, he went on to study the craft at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. “To be a potter, you have to decide you don’t want to do anything else in life,” he says. “RISD was the really big push I needed. They work you hard.” A former artist-in-residence at Mecox in Southampton, Spitzmiller’s early pottery drew the attention of noteworthy designers who commissioned his work and became lifelong fans, including Richard Keith Langham, Suzanne Rheinstein, Bunny Mellon, Bunny Williams and Albert Hadley, his longtime mentor. Spitzmiller is now one of the most highly touted ceramicists working in America.
Best known for his luxurious hand-thrown lamps drenched in rich jewel glazes and set in hand-turned, 23K yellow-gold and 9K white-gold water-gilded bases, his company has created lamps for several White House administrations, including the Obama Oval Office and private dining room and Blair House. Lamps range from $2,000 to $4,000 and are sold through Found and Mecox in Houston. Spitzmiller — who works out of his New York City studio, where he employs 15 people, including a cadre of skilled artisans — clearly has made a success from the humble art of throwing clay. Weekends are spent tending exotic hens, beehives and vegetable gardens at his 1830s Greek Revival retreat in Hudson Valley, Clove Brook Farm, which was featured in the July 2015 issue of Architectural Digest.
His mother needn’t have worried. “Mom can’t believe it all,” he says. “I can’t believe it all either, except I’m too busy to think about it.”
Currently, Spitzmiller is turning out a collection of well-priced tabletop pieces (starting at $95) in his signature marbleized pattern that includes a rimmed soup bowl, dinner plate and soon-to-come lunch plate, which are sold online. Like his lamps, all of Spitzmiller’s creations are made on a potter’s wheel — first by him, then each is finished by an artisan skilled in the art of glazing, gilding and turning wood. “Showing the artist’s hand is what makes them come alive,” he says.
Meet Spitzmiller at Houston’s Found on Wednesday, October 14, 11 am – 3 pm, for a trunk showing of one-off accessories for the table, large bowls, vases and cachepots ($95 to $3,000), in addition to already stocked lamps. Found, 3433 W. Alabama, 713.522.9191.